INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- If you were wondering why there were several ambulances parked outside the Indiana Statehouse Wednesday, it's because EMS workers are fighting for fair pay
Right now, EMS is only able to charge an insurance company if they transport the patient to a hospital. But many cases don’t require a trip to the emergency room.
“It’s time that we reform our EMS system of reimbursement and stop relying on community bake sales and fundraisers to finance what is arguably the most important component of our public safety,” said Dr. Michael Kaufmann, the state EMS director for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
The EMS industry says it’s struggling to make ends meet, but a bill that would allow ambulance workers to charge for treatment, not just transport, could help.
“From our perspective in the industry, it’s really a no-brainer as far as what it can do for cost reduction measures, as well as what it could do to help sustain an industry,” said Nathaniel Metz, the president of the Indiana EMS Association. "The way the law is currently written, it incentivizes us to give patients inappropriate care at higher costs.”
If you were to receive, for example, an IV bag in an emergency room, you could be charged hundreds of dollars, but on an ambulance, they are not allowed to charge insurance for this service.
“You’ve got to remember, an EMS ambulance right now annually cost anywhere between $400-$500 thousand dollars to operate. And if you are not getting enough runs to support that, and you don’t have the tax base to support it, where is that money going to come from?” said Metz.
“Better reimbursement means more ambulances, better trained people and will lead to an improvement in our workforce," said Dr. Kaufmann.
The bill was held in committee Wednesday after testimony sparked more questions from lawmakers. Metz hopes those are cleared up soon.
“This could be one of the largest and most influential piece of legislation to hit the industry in probably 50 years," noted Metz.
EMS workers stress that this bill isn’t about getting rich.
Metz says most EMTs make less than fast food workers.
For those who have insurance, treatment would be covered just like medical services that the hospital.